It’s nearly the end of another year (2017) lots has happened and we can look back on our memories with a mixture of happiness, sadness and even regret. I won’t dwell on the past because sometimes retrospectives cause more harm than good.
Retrospectives do raise an interesting theme for my blog as it raises the question about building a time machine and travelling back into the past. I have written about this on my blog so you will have to forgive me for being repetitive but it seems that more and more people want to change the past because they believe it would improve their future or bring about different outcomes. All I ask is if you could, would you risk it? I wouldn’t.
There about plenty of films based on the whole idea of Ground Hog Day such as reliving the same day until you get it right and win the girl you want. Ground Hog Day is the story of a self-absorbed reporter who is both shallow and narcissistic; not to mention that he is also disinterested and emotionally detached from his own life. He eventually becomes a well-rounded talented, compassionate individual who finally gets the girl and breaks the eternal cycle that results in a happy ending. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundhog_Day_(film)
That isn’t the kind of time loop I am thinking off… it would be nice if life was like this but if everyone had a Ground Hog Day experience it would be chaos.
There is also the Story of the Time travellers Wife where it is more chaotic and lacks the unrealistic happy ending scenario that shows the consequences of messing around with time even if you lack control of it. Https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Time_Traveler%27s_Wife_(film)
Then there is the film About Time which also follows in the vein of the Time travellers wife although it still has the Ground Hog Day type ending where it all apparently works out for the best with the main character realising it is best to live each day once and not mess around with the past even if you could do so. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/About_Time_(2013_film)
So why wouldn’t I? There is a passage in the Bible that alludes to this scenario although in a much more practical way. Most Christian’s are familiar with it but I need to broaden the context slightly for you to get the full picture. Before I do, let’s discuss this whole desire to change the past in order to make the future better.
I have had one of those moments where something triggered a past regret of mine. The exact trigger came in the form of a series of dreams where a girl I knew as a teenager popped up as her teenage self that caused me to experience all the emotions I had towards her back then. I don’t know that it was true love but at the time it certainly felt like it. I relived all the grief and sadness of that loss for some time afterwards and wondered what it would have been like had we not split up. The biggest regret was that one moment where I acted childishly and hurt her beyond repair that was the moment I wished I could go back and change.
Let’s suppose for a moment I could have and did go back and change it. I can’t even predict how my life might have turned out had I done so. Would we have been happy, would it have lasted, did we have children; how would that affect my faith? I do know that many years later when her mother died I got back in contact with my ex-girlfriends older sister who told me that my ex-girlfriend was nothing like the girl knew when we were teens. Retrospectively there were a few signs that said it wouldn’t have been the dream life I wished for… None of us gets a dream life in reality. The bible is full of men and women whose wishes and hopes were never fulfilled they wanted. Even the heroes of faith mentioned in Hebrews 11 apparently got a bum deal when it came to choosing wives; most often because they looked at their world through material eyes instead of trusting God to bless them His way. So did I get a bum deal like them? Well no, and neither did they. They all got the life and the wife that God intended for them. They weren’t in control of their circumstances God was.
When things go bad in our own lives we think God is unfair or we think that if I had only done this or made that choice it would have all turned out differently… would it have; is God really unfair?
We all hope for good things but as our text points out below the things we hope for are those things that are unseen. Specifically, we as Christians put our hope in Christ Jesus as we look forward to our salvation being fulfilled; we persevere towards that goal but we don’t do that in our own strength it is the gift of faith through Jesus Christ that causes us to persevere.
Next, our text tells us we don’t even know what we should pray but the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. So really if we don’t know what to pray without God’s Spirit interpreting those words for us how can we even begin to complain that we got a bum deal or that if only I had said or done this or that? We don’t have a clue what we are saying nor do we understand the implications of what could have happened if we did. Our hero in About Time only came to this realisation in retrospect after living multiple lives so to speak and even then the outcome wasn’t the happiest of endings.
Yet another movie Called The Butterfly Effect tells the story of a person who goes back in time in an attempt to undo the tragic events that were his life that in some ways have even more tragic outcomes for himself and others. The original timeline is tragic enough for the characters and one could ask why God allows such horrible things to happen in the first place but then it is the culmination of our lives experiences that make us who we are today. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Butterfly_Effect
The final part of our text below answers that question that all things work for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. God knows what is best and He had a plan to bring you and I to where we are this very moment all along nothing could have changed this moment so stop having regrets stop living in the past and stop trying to control where your future will go because you can’t. This is not a deterministic or fatalistic view of life it is simply a reality that we can’t change. It puts a bit of a dampener on all that life coaching that people often invest in and it really shows us how foolish all the life coach gurus are. You can be your best self with the best self-esteem and the best goals but what will that mean in ten years? How will that affect not only you but everyone else around you? Are your outcomes the best for others?
Herein lays one of the deeper questions. Is it all about you or me? Suppose I could go back and change it all; it’s not matter would I but should I? The Butterfly Effect implies a very real no. If I were godlike in some limited way would it give me the right to go about meddling in other people’s lives, or time, just to get the outcome I wanted? It smacks of selfishness.
I pray and hope next year will be one where you gain more insight and wisdom into the heart of God.
Rom 8:24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?
Rom 8:25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
Rom 8:26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;
Rom 8:27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Rom 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Rom 8:29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
Rom 8:30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.